Can you smell it? And no, I’m not referring to that guy on the F train who looks like the last time he showered, M*A*S*H was still on the air. No, it is the smell of fall, and it’s coming at a rapid pace. After Labor Day, your summer will be a distant memory, leaving you wondering what exactly you did over the past three months. Yes, gone are the days of going to the beach and wearing shorts. Forget all that.
Fall is almost here. Rejoice! This is one of the greatest times to live in New York City. The leaves change colors (and die), a light chill begins to fill the air, and all of your friends who were so busy all summer will now be around all the time (not necessarily a good thing). Now we all know that fall brings two of the greatest annual holidays. You guessed it: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But seriously I am talking about Halloween and Thanksgiving. One Holiday brings you frights and treats, and the other brings you treats and the fright of seeing your Grandmother’s obese boyfriend loosen his belt.
I think my favorite sign that autumn has arrived is the elusive pumpkin beer. Pumpkin beer is the perfect combination of a sweet desert, a la pumpkin pie, and a nicely strong beer to whet your whistle with. The beer is typically concocted in small batches and by micro-brewers, which is why it is of the utmost importance to jump on them quickly. Since pumpkin beer is a niche ale, each brewer makes a limited supply each season and they are usually rolled out at the very end of August and all but disappear by early October. Since I consider myself somewhat of a beer expert, the following is a list of the best and potentially the most sought after pumpkin ales this season:
1. Smuttynose Brewery (New Hampshire) – Pumpkin Ale
I am going to be biased now but this is my favorite Pumpkin beer. First off, it is often the hardest to find even in the beginning of the season. Smuttynose uses a pumpkin mash, so this baby is all natural. The flavor is full but not over the top with subtle hints of nutmeg, without being too sweet. I recommend pairing this one with pork or fish.
2. Shipyard Brewing Co. (Portland ME) Pumpkinhead Ale
Shipyard’s Pumpkin beer has a lot going on and is best to drink on its own. In each sip, you really taste aromas of everything from cinnamon to nutmeg and of course an overwhelming hint of pumpkin. While tasty, this is probably the sweetest pumpkin ale that I’ve tried. I also recommend it to be sipped on a colder day, since it may be too heavy to drink in the September sun.
3. Southhampton Publick House (New York State) Pumpkin Ale
How about a little local flavor? I tried this ale for the first time this past weekend as it is already being served at Union Hall, a great beer bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn. This one was definitely the most middle of the road of all the pumpkin beers. There are light hints of pumpkin, which is a fresh change of pace since you can likely throw back a couple without getting tired of the sweet taste, and heavy flavor. It has a dark, amber appearance which also looks great in a pint glass.
So, there you have it- If you love beer and are in the mood to try something that is both unique and seasonal, head down to the local pub, and ask for one of these three recommended beers by name. And for the hell of it, tell them LocalBozo sent you. They will most likely kick you out.
- Alan Smithee